June 10th, 2010
09:55 AM ET

Letters to the President #507: 'A kick in the pants? Hardly'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/06/08/rage.obama/smlvidrage.gi.jpg caption="President Obama is heading down to the Gulf again soon to check on the oil spill, and presumably to try out some new kicking shoes. We’ll see." width=300 height=169]

Reporter's Note: President Obama is heading down to the Gulf again soon to check on the oil spill, and presumably to try out some new kicking shoes. We’ll see. In the meantime, I hope he sees my latest letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

I’ve tried to ignore that whole posterior-kicking comment you made a few days ago, but it’s just been eating away at me, and I just have to let you know that it did not strike me well. Not only did it lack a tone of real conviction, but it smacked of the false tough-guy talk that I used to hear from guys in high school who had about as much chance of kicking someone else’s rear end as I had of becoming the sixth Jackson.

Amid my many efforts to encourage you and offer advice, I warned you some days ago to be careful about throwing around empty threats. I mean, in all honesty, precisely what and whom do you have in mind in terms of this “___ kicking?” It’s no big puzzle about who might be involved: Officers of BP, maybe some of the Transocean people, perhaps even some of your team members on the scene for not moving more quickly and decisively to set up protection for the shores.

What is a puzzle, however, is what you are going to do about it? You’ve already trotted your Attorney General onto the scene to say he’ll consider criminal charges. But we haven’t seen any, and at the moment, I’m not convinced we ever will. You’ve already suggested BP officials have not impressed you with their actions. But I have yet to see them summoned to the principal’s office for a good talking to, or even being made to stand in a corner. In short, I don’t think anything has substantially changed from your first visit to the scene of the crime… or whatever it is.

A former president once told me that when he needed to make a point to someone who was being a tad too high and mighty, he called them to a meeting in the Oval Office. He made them walk into that room so fraught with the serious business of the nation, and let the building itself remind them of the power of the presidency, and the responsibility of Americans to respect that office. He found that it softened up even the most hard-headed opponent.

So here’s an idea: Instead of rolling out more faux tough talk, call the BP execs to your office for a meeting with you, the Vice President, and every Cabinet member who can possibly be connected to this matter, and inform those company men in clear terms that you are prepared to use every ounce of your influence to visit unending hell upon their heads if they don’t start playing this straight. Tell them you are talking about not merely stripping their wealth, but also putting them into prison so long that Law and Order won’t even be in syndication anymore by the time they get out. Inform them that you see this oil spill as an assault on American shores. Then sit there and let them soak up the atmosphere, while the AG discusses the latest improvements at the SuperMax prison.

Now that would be a kick in the pants. Or at least a good warm-up.

I’m still in New Orleans, so mind the time change if you decide to call. Went for a lovely run along the river this morning. You should have been there.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Augsbee

    Wow!!!!!! this is the best letter you have ever written. Applaud, applaud, applaud. I am with you 100%.... Wish the President would take your advise and do it. Wish more people would read this letter.

    June 10, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
  2. Jim

    Tom, By the time the Government acts I think the people of the States affected by this Oil will take the Guilty parties out – tar them in their own oil & feather them & use them to mop up the mess they created. 52 days & oil washing up on the beaches,marshes. I'm not directly affected here in California But I'm none too pleased with those who did not do their jobs they are paid to do in the first place & allowed this to happen.

    June 10, 2010 at 11:43 am |
  3. Kirsten Verdi, San Antonio, TX

    Mr. Foreman, this is the best letter to the president thus far! I share your sentiment 100%!!!!!!!

    June 10, 2010 at 10:08 am |